Probe reveals fraud in Belgian soccer
Belgian prosecutors have charged 19 suspects and detained nine in a massive fraud and match-fixing scandal that has mired Belgium's elite league in scandal, they said on Friday.
The charges came after police carried out a massive operation in Belgium on Wednesday, arresting 29 people, 10 of whom were released without charges.
Among the detained were at least three players' agents, a referee, and a top executive from a major football club.
Mogi Bayat, portrayed in the media as Belgium's most powerful sports agent, was charged with money laundering and conspiracy.
Referee Bart Vertenten was also charged with conspiracy and arrested, while former Anderlecht club lawyer Laurent Denis was charged for both conspiracy and money laundering.
On Thursday, another referee, Sebastien Delferiere, was charged but was immediately released on parole.
Vertenten and Delferiere were suspended on Thursday. The charges against referees are part of a probe into suspected match-fixing.
The operation led to a total of 60 police searches on Wednesday, including the headquarters of leading clubs in the Belgian first division, with Club Brugge, Anderlecht, Standard Liege and Genk among them.
The huge operation took place simultaneously in Belgium and six other European countries, including France and Serbia, where an agent was arrested on Thursday and awaits extradition.